We're less than a week into the official beginning of the 2013 NBA offseason, and the league has already set a tone that would make this one of the most hectic summers in recent memory.
Starting with Thursday's draft, the summer season has been filled with a crazy amount of wheelings and dealings. All-Stars, burgeoning young stars and a whole heaping pile of Quentin Richardson money have already been sent packing this summer, and the moves can't even become official yet.
And all of this is without mentioning the man who can make an NBA writer's face cringe faster than a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist jumper. Or Josh Smith. Or any of the bevy of talented restricted free agents hitting the market.
Chris Paul and David West represent the most noteworthy signings of July thus far, with the rest of the movement happening on the trade block.
If there's one thing we've learned over these past couple years, it's that player movement only begets more of the same. The NBA's restrictive collective bargaining agreement along with the league-wide nuclear arms race to compete with the Miami Heat has created a tidal wave of movement and potential dealings coming down the pike.
Things are happening at such a rapid pace that it almost makes you want to take off, grab a volleyball at the local Wal-Mart and live the remainder of your life like Tom Hanks from Cast Away. But you don't. Because they don't have Wi-Fi on uninhabited islands (yet).
With that in mind, here's a quick breakdown of all the latest craziness going on across the Association.
Pistons Want Rajon Rondo?
In case you haven't heard, the Boston Celtics pressed the detonator on the last six years this offseason. They allowed coach Doc Rivers to bolt for the Los Angeles Clippers and then compounded that move by trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets.
It's all a bit jarring when put into one sentence. Yet the rebuild has been seemingly coming for years for Boston, with Danny Ainge finally mustering up the courage to blow the whole thing up.
The Celtics are "rebuilding." Or they're "tanking." Call it what you want. The results are going to be the same. Boston will almost certainly miss the playoffs next season and will be crossing its fingers along with 14 other cities hoping to win the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes come next June.
All this we know. What's interesting to wonder—both from a Celtics perspective and from the outside looking in—is whether Rajon Rondo is the next to go. The superstar point guard is currently recovering from ACL surgery but is still a coveted talent around the league.
Perhaps the game's best creator not named LeBron James, it was apparent in the postseason just how much the Celtics missed Rondo. Their offense cratered as Paul Pierce struggled to carry the massive offensive burden, perhaps stoking the fires of this entire rebuilding project.
Seeing the rubble that lies in the Celtics' wake, there have been many teams to show real interest in Rondo. According to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, expect the Pistons to be among Rondo's top suitors should Ainge look to make a move.
For now, though, it seems Rondo is more a part of the future than the past. As noted by Scott Souza of MetroWest Daily News, Ainge does not seem too keen on moving Rondo at this juncture:
On the one hand, Ainge's position is understandable. Rondo has face-of-the-franchise talent and has never gotten the chance to be a true leader of a team. It's possible that he flourishes without Pierce and Garnett around, as having two big brothers constantly in his ear could have been a bigger distraction than anyone realizes.
Rondo is known across the league as one of the league's most introspective players. Perhaps the Celtics couldn't be his team without those two gone. We'll see.
That said, Ainge would probably not turn down a jaw-dropping offer for Rondo. The enigmatic point guard is 27 years old and will turn 28 next February. By the time Boston is ready to compete for a playoff berth again, Rondo may be pushing 30. It might take a lot to get him, but there's no way that Rondo is completely out of the trade woods yet.
Whether Detroit is willing to give up what it takes to land Rondo, though, is another question entirely.
Robin Lopez on the Outs in New Orleans?
There certainly haven't been many more active teams this offseason than the newly branded Pelicans. They made what looked like the biggest splash on draft night—trading for Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday—before the Celtics and Nets wiped everyone else off the planet.
That push for rapid contention has only continued since the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on July 1.
Most notably, the team has gone in hard after Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Tyreke Evans. The two sides met during the wee hours of Monday, and the result of that pow-wow sent a reverberation throughout the league.
The numbers haven't been confirmed yet, but the Pelicans reportedly offered Evans a massive four-year offer sheet. According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, the deal could range anywhere from $44 to 50 million:
The Kings would have 72 hours to match the deal. Whether they would is uncertain.
Evans is a talented young guard who was wildly misused by Keith Smart over the past couple seasons, but it's still hard to justify paying him upwards of $11 million per season based on his recent production.
But restricted free agency has become the land of overpaid talent, and the Pelicans could put enough poison pills in the deal to keep Sacramento from matching.
With the addition of Holiday and the possible acquisition of Evans comes one problem: New Orleans needs some cap room. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, center Robin Lopez may become the casualty to open up a few shekels:
Lopez started all 82 games last season for New Orleans, having the best season of his career. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per night, emerging as a surprisingly productive player in the middle of the Pelicans defense.
But with the possibility that Anthony Davis could slide over to center, it's unknown how highly the Pelicans think of Lopez as a long-term fit. Assuming they land Evans and want to keep Davis at power forward, the team has a bevy of backcourt options aching to be traded for a big.
Much of this is probably contingent on Evans, but the Pelicans do have more than one option with Lopez. Only $500,000 of the 25-year-old big man's salary for next season is guaranteed, and the entirety of his $5.34 million salary for 2014-15 can be wiped off the books.
It's an awfully hard decision, but it might prove necessary without an amenable trade option.
'No Market' for Danny Granger?
The story for Granger and the Indiana Pacers has been so well-covered it can almost be explained in shorthand.
Paul George's emergence and the effectiveness of Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup leave Granger—the former franchise player—on the outside looking in.
Granger makes $14.02 million next season and has the reasonable expectation to rejoin the starting lineup.
His contract also expires after 2013-14. The Pacers are a small-market club. They're not in the business of paying over $14 million for 25 minutes a night.
Understand where all the trade winds are coming from now? Bueno. Thanks for listening.
The problem, as it is for all players who are "obviously" on the block, is finding equal value in return.
Indiana won't be happy paying Granger to join its bench next season—and that's where he'll be, barring injury—and the oft-injured forward won't be happy to be there. But the Pacers also have a glaring need for floor spacing and outside shooting, both of which Granger supplies.
He's also extremely valuable from a financial perspective, as everyone knows the Pacers won't be paying the luxury tax anytime soon.
In other words, Granger won't just be given away. Not that anyone seems to be buying, anyway. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Pacers are finding "no market" for Granger or fellow swingman Gerald Green, who signed with the team just last offseason.
For now, the lack of intrigue for both players makes sense. Indiana will probably have to send a draft pick for a team to take on Green—and that's even if it finds a suitor. Green was almost jettisoned from Frank Vogel's rotation upon arrival last season, his Cinderella story with the Nets in 2011-12 quickly turning into a pumpkin.
Granger is more of a wait-and-see game. The Pacers will eventually find interest, if for no other reason than his expiring contract. Teams are going to miss out on the Dwight Howard-Josh Smith sweepstakes, and they could look to roll over that available cap space until 2014, when guys like LeBron James hit the open market. Granger could be the perfect one-year stopgap.
If they want to move Granger, the Pacers will have a chance. The movement might just not happen as rapidly as Larry Bird and Co. would have hoped.
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